SBD/February 13, 2017/Leagues and Governing Bodies

UFC Debuts Women's 145-Pound Division, Still Searching For Rousey Replacement

de Randamie (l) took down Holm (r) in their featherweight division bout
If the UFC was "hoping to find a female star to replace the seemingly-retired Ronda Rousey, or a reason for mixed martial arts fans to embrace its new 145-pound division," the outfit is "still searching" after Saturday’s UFC 208 at Barclays Center, according to Alex Raskin of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The Netherlands’ Germaine de Randamie became the UFC featherweight division’s "inaugural champion with a unanimous decision victory" over Holly Holm. However, the event was "more about the fighter sitting in the front row: Cris 'Cyborg' Justino," for whom UFC President Dana White says he "created the new featherweight division." The good news for the UFC, which is "still making inroads in New York, is that the event was sold out" and recorded a live gate of $2.27M, a record for a non-Nets event at Barclays (WSJ.com, 2/12). ESPN's Brett Okamoto said of what to look forward to in the UFC's women division, "Cyborg obviously. This 145-pound division was created for her." He added, "She does a lot of what Ronda Rousey used to do and that's first-round finishes. She is riding a streak of 15 consecutive knockouts. She's very fun to watch, she's very dominant and now she has a home in the UFC" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 2/12).

CURIOUS DEVELOPMENT: In DC, Jeff Wagenheim wrote of UFC 208, "This is the fight the UFC is feeding us to launch its brand-new 145-pound division?" At a time when UFC is "shifting emphasis from the meritocracy-driven progression of weight classes to the fast-buck opportunism of 'money weight' matchmaking, this is a doubly curious development." But fans long have been "clamoring for the UFC to launch a 145-pound women’s division," if only to give a platform to Justino (WASHINGTON POST, 2/11). Former UFC fighter Miesha Tate said of the timing of the 145-pound division launch, "They're always going to say it is too soon, but I don't believe it is. I like where the division is going. ... I know this division was sort of built around (Justino), but we have women to fill this out and more will be coming out of the woodwork. If you build it, they will come. I believe that" ("UFC 208 Prefight Show," FS1, 2/11).
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